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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Going Back Into My {Pinterest} Closet

With school winding down...slowly...I'm already thinking ahead to next year, like most of you.

This may also have something to do with the fact that I am starting in a new room next year for the 5th time in 5 years. Yes. Gulp.  That's another rant post.

In anticipation of next year, I've been going through my closet.  My Pinterest closet that is.  I pin so frequently and fervently that I totally forget what I pin. {This may be the reason I have pinned about 26 different recipes for baked zucchini, or the same writing activity 3 times}.

Here are some favorites {educational and not} from the back of my Pinterest closet {meaning I pinned them a long time ago}

Teacher Stuff:

1} I totally meant to do this to my boring, old, rocker last year, but we'll see if I can make it work this year. This teacher is super-crafty.

2} I love this magazine display.  It's super-organized, and displays the magazines so that the students can easily find the one they want.  It might be a cool way to show their writing portfolios as well.

3} This picture is just pure inspiration for how organized I'd like my classroom to be.

4} I love this as a bonus bulletin board {something I'll need moving to a smaller room}

These are just a few of sooooo many!


1} These just look delicious.

2} I pinned these corn cakes 3 times. Oops.  I love Annie's Eats.  Her recipes always turn out tasty.

3} I have a whole board dedicated to the sweet stuff, like this blueberry cake.

4} These "cookies" were one of my very first pins... forever ago. Haven't made them...yet.

I'll be back later this week with wedding, home, and style pins from the back of my Pinterest closet.  In the meantime you can follow me on Pinterest if any of these pins tickled your fancy :)

Follow Me on Pinterest


Sunday, May 20, 2012

{1} iPad in a Classroom: How I Do It

Hello friends!

Happy Sunday, and for some of you happy summer break!  Wow, that's weird.  We're still looking at 17 more days. Theycantcomesoonenough. Anyways...

I give you the story of my iPad...

Sometime around November {I think}, Donor's Choose offered to match donations made to teacher projects, up to 250,000.  The minute I got the email letting me know about their very *sweet* deal, I knew I had to spring into action, and bring out the big guns: I was going to request an iPad {I have ONE student computer in my room...needless to say we're lacking technology}!  I had been lucky enough to have had 3 projects funded previously, including one that was funded like 3 days before I got the email announcing the matching funds.  I had never asked friends and family for donations in the past, instead relying on the kindness of stangers.  So this time around, I sent out an email asking for anything they could give,  And my project was funded in about 2 hours.  No lie.  I am very fortunate to have some incredibly generous people in my life, with my dad winning "Most Generous"!!! {Thanks Dad!!!}

Soon enough an ipad had arrived in my room, and I realized that I had no idea how I was going to maximize its benefits as far as student use goes.  Would I hand it out to the earliest finisher? {That seemed wrong on multiple levels}, would I pull a popsicle stick every time there was time to use it? {What if the same student was pulled more often? Would I keep a tally sheet?? How time consuming would that be}

I finally decided that I would pull popsicle sticks to determine an original order, and each student would get the iPad on their designated day.  If they were absent, we would skip ahead, and then go back.  If it was a half-day, it wouldn't count, and early finishers would be allowed to use it for a set amount of time, and then we would pass it on to the next student.

It has worked swimmingly.  It is the fairest process I can think of, anyway.

We also made an iPad pledge, and they have done such an amazing job of following it.  They were the ones who suggested washing and DRYING their hands before every use, and I hear them remind each other all the time.  It's great!  One of our rules is to carry the iPad like a newbord baby.  And these kids cradle it like a preemie.  I was so worried in anticipation of the iPad's arrival, and they have just blown my expectations out of the water!

Here is a picture  of our iPad pledge.  Students signed their name in the order their names were pulled, and we just refer to it to see whose turn is next.

Our principal's plan is to have student tablets in every classroom somewhere along the line, but I feel so fortunate to have our iPad until then!

Do you have an iPad or limited technology in your room? How do you manage it?


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Favorite Reads: Linking Up!

I'm linking up with Mrs. Stanford's class to share some of my favorite reads: profressional, personal, and children's books {of course!!!} I hope you'll find some new favorites among my suggestions...especially the children's books, I hope I'm including some you might not be too familiar with :)

First things first:  Profressional
I have to be honest, I don't read many profressional books.  I prefer a workshop, or online resources.  But here are two that have changed the way I teach Language Arts forever.  I know the first one is no surprise, but you might not've heard of the second one.  If you haven't, and you struggle with how to teach writing in any way, I HIGHLY reccommend it!  The mini-lessons and student resources included in the book are awesome!

Secondly: Personal
  Again, no huge surprise.  I'm reading what everyone's reading.  I love to read, and love that this summer should hopefully afford me some time to do so.  Besides the books picturesd here, my favorites include Confessions of a Shopaholic, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Secret Life of Bees, The Plain Truth (really any Jodi Piccoult book), Harlan Coben and James Patterson books {especially in the summer}, and so many more.  I am a repeat reader.  If I loved a book, I'll read it at least twice.

Last: Children's Books
Children's books really are some of my favorite books in the whole wide world.  I eat them up.  I sometimes believe they appeal more to me than some of my students.  I have a few favorite authors, but at the same time, I have fallen in love with so many books, it's hard for me to pick.  Miss Rumphius is hands down my favorite, and I want to frame the book's illustrations for my {future} baby's nursery.  They're breath-taking.


I want to leave you with a quote I found when I was researching Barbara Cooney for my Miss Rumphius unit that I love, and find so inspiring:

On her receiving the Caldecott Medal in 1959: "I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting.... It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death. Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand.... a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. So should a child’s. For myself, I will never talk down to—or draw down to—children." {Source: Wikipedia}


Thursday, May 10, 2012

If You Give Your Teacher A...

Using "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie", or any "If You Give a..." books to teach Cause & Effect is all over the  blogosphere and Pinterest, and it's easy to see why: The kids get a kick out of them, and they present cause and effect in a very simple, easy to understand, format.

Cause and Effect is our focus skill this week {per Storytown}, and so I read "If You Give a Dog a Donut", and we recorded our causes and effects on chart paper {which I forgot to take a picture of, of course}.  The kids got really involved, and even pointed out that many of the "effects" became the new "causes".  I was totally psyched that they pointed this out, because I really wanted them to see that, especially in life, cause and effect isn't always so cut and dry.

After we finished reading our book and recording our causes and effects, we played a little game.  I came up with a person or a profression, and they did the rest.  Here's how it went:

Me: Fireman

Literal Student: "If you give a fireman a hose, he'll put a fire out".
Class Clown:" "If you give a fireman a siren, he'll use it to go through red lights".

Me: Policeman

Literal Student B: "If you give a policeman a badge, he'll arrest criminals."
Same Class Clown: "If you give a policeman a donut, he'll ask for coffee to go with it."

We did this a few more times with a baby, and old man, and a few people we knew, like our principal.  Our little class clown eventually influenced the crowd, and we ended up with a lot of comical {yet surprisingly accurate} answers.

Then, I told them they would be giving me something, and they needed to say what I would do.  They're eyes lit up and there were lots of "Yesssssssssses".  This was because they knew this would be the easiest assignment in 2nd Grade History.  Because, well because, Miss K LOVES CHEESEBURGERS.  And she talks about them ALL THE TIME!!!!  And her students ask her ALL THE TIME, "What would you do for a cheesburger?"  {The answer is, pretty much anything and everything.}

So I had to say to them, right away, "Now, I know what you're thinking, but please, please, please try to think of other things I like.  Think about other things I talk about all the time"

Blank Stares.

"You know, like something important I'm planning {my wedding}, a certain someone I love very much {my dog, Georgie}, or my favorite book {Miss Rumphius}."

And a lot of them started nodding.  But I still got a lot of cheeseburgers.  {I am NOT complaining}.

This activity was so fun for everyone.  It was fun for them because they got to write something about me on a personal, comical level.  And it was really fun for me, because I got to see what they picked up from me.

You can download this fun freebie from my TpT shop, click the picture below to head there.  I strongly suggest using it the next team you teach cause and effect, but it's also fun for anytime, especially the end of the year when they know you well!


Have fun with it, and as always, please leave feedback on our blog or at our TpT shop to let us know how you like it!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wants and Needs Craftivity

My Wants and Needs Craftivity is now available on Tpt.  I gave it away as a flash freebie here, but you can now grab it on TpT!

Enjoy the last few hours of the Teacher Appreciation Sale!

Click the picture to purchase the activity

If you enjoy it, please leave some feedback!

Happy Shopping!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Team Points and a Freebie :)

Hello there!

Wow has May been hec.tic. for me.  We still have about 6 weeks to go, but the kids and I are definitely feeling the end of the year fever.  The kids more so, I think it’s gonna be a long 6 weeks.

Anyway, I have seen a picture or two floating around on Pinterest featuring Team Points.  I’ve used team points since my first year of teaching, and I thought I’d share how it goes in my room.

First let me say, I’ve done team points as a behavior management tool since my first year of teaching.  It works so well, and is so easy to implement, that I don’t see myself ever NOT doing team points.  I sit my kiddos in groups from the very first day of school.  I usually do 4 groups, but I’ve done five and six, and also three super groups (about 7-8 kids per groups).  I don’t find students to be more chatty in groups versus rows at all, and I don’t like the amount of space rows take up.  I start them in groups from the beginning, which results in one less procedure to teach later in the year.

I assign each team a color name at the beginning of the year, but their names do change throughout the school-year.  Their names often change with what we’re learning.  We’ve had the Polar Team during habitats, the Verb team (after learning many parts of speeches), and the cube or cone team during geometry.  However, the end of the year team names are best. I let them pick their own names.  I don’t give them any rules, just that their name needs to be school appropriate, and everyone gets a say. This year, three out of four of my groups decided quickly and unanimously.  My fourth group just couldn’t compromise.  So, I let them each contribute a word to their team name.  And it turned out really strange…but they thought it was a riot.  So even when the “naming ceremony” doesn’t work out… it works out!

 I use team points for many different reasons.  One of the best ways I use points is to encourage speedy un-packing, clean-up, and preparation.  Sometimes my kids dawdle.  Like taking 8 minutes to tear out a workbook page dawdle.  The minute I offer up team points for the first team to have their materials ready, it’s like I gave them a Red Bull IV.  They can suddenly move at the speed of light!  So, team points definitely help my classroom run more efficiently in that manner.

I use team points for healthy competition.  “I just love how the Purple Team is sitting up straight.  I am going to give them 3 points”.  Presto!  Every student in my class suddenly has the posture of a finishing school student. 

If you really want your students to do something all you have to do is up the ante.  I usually give 3 points for the 1st team who does what I ask, then 2, then 1.  The last team sometimes will get a point as well, but not usually.  When I really want them to do something really quickly, I say, “The first team who is ready gets 8 points!!!!!”  These kids will move like they have never moved before.  And what they don’t get is that it’s all pretty relative, because 2nd place will get 7 points and so on and so forth!

The winning team gets a star at the end of the day.  Once a team recieves 5 stars, they get lunch with me.  In the eyes of a 2nd Grader, there is nothing better than that.
Besides team points and team names, every team needs a captain.  Team captains often record their team points on the board, or collect materials.  The team captain title just rotates through the group in a clock-wise position.  Each morning, there is a new team captain.  At the beginning of the year, there was a lot of confusion over whose turn it was, so I made Team Captain signs that they keep on their pencil boxes, and hand off each morning.  They're nothing too fancy, but they get the job done, and they get it done well!

I strongly encourage using team points!  Even at this point in the year, they’re still a saving grace of mine!
Do you use team points, or something similar?


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Can You Feel the Love?

You guys? Can you feel the love out there in the teacher blogosphere? There are so many teachers participating in the Teachers Pay Teachers sale through Tuesday.  And April over at A Modern Teacher is hosting a the PreK-2 Jackpot for teachers, offering up tons and tons of free materials for TODAY ONLY! 

A Modern Teacher
We missed our chance to sign up, darnit!  And I can't upload my Wants and Needs packet to TpT today because Paul wants to keep the site open for buyers.  Buyers like me, who already spent money and keep going back for more! What is it about a good sale?

So, since I missed the Jackpot, and since I can't upload my super-cute Wants and Needs packet, I'm offering it up here for free, until 9pm ONLY.

It's a flash freebie...pass it on!!


I do ask that you become a follower of our {little} blog if you imbibe.  I don't NEED you to, but I really WANT you to :)


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Sale & Arrays!!!

Happy Saturday!

We thought we'd jump on the Teacher Appreciation Sale with a little sale of our own in our {very} little TpT Shop.  The official sale starts tomorrow, and lasts through Tuesday.  Hopefully, you'll clear your wishlist...I know we're excited to clear ours!  There really are so many great items out there!


We're linking up with A Cupcake for the Teacher to let you know JUST HOW MANY teachers are participating. There are A LOT!  I know I'm purchasing the "Donut for Dad" for Cupcake tomorrow morning for sure!

Our newest unit is our Array unit!  This is the first unit Jenna and I have worked on together, so it's extra special for us!  We've had a riot this past week putting it together and introducing it to our classes.  They really loved the cookie array activity, and the garden monster.  Seriously, this unit is so fun and educational {toot! toot!}


Check it out, as well as a few other of our items by clicking on the banner below.  And be sure to stop by A Cupcake for the Teacher to explore all the other items out there!!

Halle :)